List Of Rivers In India: Unveiling Lengths, Origins, and Tributaries

Indian Rivers, Indian River System

Explore India’s River System: From the Ganges flowing in the northern regions to the serene backwaters of Kerala in the south. This detailed compilation includes the Indian rivers’ lengths, origins, and tributaries of each river. As we approach 2024, candidates preparing for various Defense Exams, including BSF, CISF, CDS, and Territorial Army, are in search of crucial General Knowledge information. Here, we provide an extensive list of rivers, along with pertinent details, to aid in their exam preparation.

Rivers in India

Within the rich tapestry of India’s geography, rivers emerge as fundamental and captivating elements. These majestic water bodies, acting as lifelines, traverse the country’s plains, mountains, and plateaus, sculpting its landscapes and fostering its communities. More than mere geographical features, India’s rivers are repositories of culture, history, and spirituality. As we embark on a journey along the meandering waters of India, we delve into the significance, stories, and serenity that these rivers bestow upon the subcontinent.

Indian River System

Let’s delve into the major river systems of India by exploring a table that outlines their respective lengths.

River SystemTotal LengthLength in India
Indus River System3180 km1114 km
Brahmaputra River System2900 km916 km
Ganga River System2510 km2510 km
Yamuna River System1376 km1376 km
Tapi River System724 km724 km
Narmada River System1312 km1312 km
Krishna River System1400 km1400 km
Cauvery River System805 km805 km
Godavari River System1465 km1465 km
Mahanadi River System851 km851 km
Indian River System

The above table provides comprehensive details about the lengths of the major river systems in India, offering insights into their geographical span within the country.

Indian Rivers

India boasts a diverse network of rivers, each weaving its own unique story as it navigates through the varied landscapes of the country. While the majority gracefully make their way to the Bay of Bengal, some take a different course, embracing the western part and eventually flowing into the Arabian Sea. Intriguingly, inland drainage carves its path through specific regions like the northern Aravalli range, parts of Ladakh, and the arid Thar Desert.

The origins of these waterways are fascinating, emanating from three primary watersheds – 

  • The grand Himalaya and Karakoram range, 
  • The Chota Nagpur plateau coupled with the Vindhya and Satpura range,
  • The enchanting Western Ghats.

Indus River System: A Journey Through Majesty

Origin: The Indus River, spanning an impressive 2897 km, embarks on its journey from the northern slopes of the Kailash range in Tibet, near the serene Lake Mansarovar.

Course: As it gracefully meanders through Tibet in a north-westerly direction, it enters the Indian Territory in Jammu and Kashmir, creating a picturesque gorge.

Length: With a total length of about 2897 km from the source to the point near Karachi, where it falls into the Arabian Sea, approximately 700 km lies in India.

Entry into India: The Indus River makes its entry into Indian territory in Jammu and Kashmir, creating a picturesque gorge.

Joining Tributaries: Within the Kashmir region, it merges with several tributaries, including the Zaskar, Shyok, Nubra, and Hunza.

Flow through Regions: The river flows through Ladakh, Baltistan, and Gilgit, coursing between the Ladakh Range and Zaskar Range, particularly at Leh.

Himalayan Crossing: It crosses the Himalayas through a 5181-meter-deep gorge near Attock, lying north of Nanga Parbat.

Major Tributaries in India: The major tributaries of the Indus River in India include Jhelum, Ravi, Chenab, Beas, and Sutlej.

Brahmaputra River System: A Mighty Force of Nature

Origin: The Brahmaputra, originating from Mansarovar Lake, shares its source with the Indus and Sutlej rivers.

Length: With a length of 3848 km, it flows eastward parallel to the Himalayas, undertaking a U-turn around Namcha Barwa before entering India as the Dihang River in Arunachal Pradesh.

Course: This massive river maintains its braided channel in Assam, causing calamities in both Assam and Bangladesh.

Undercutting: The river’s erosional activity extends to approximately 5500 meters.

Flow through India: It courses through Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, interconnected by various tributaries. In Assam, it maintains a braided channel for most of its length.

Tibet Region: Known as the Tsangpo in Tibet, the river receives less water and silt. However, as it enters India, heavy precipitation leads to significant water flow during rainfall and substantial silt deposits.

Volume: It stands as one of India’s largest rivers in terms of volume.

Calamities: The Brahmaputra has gained notoriety for causing calamities in both Assam and Bangladesh.

Ganga River System: A Spiritual Odyssey

Origin: The Ganga, originating as the Bhagirathi from the Gangotri glacier, embarks on a spiritual journey before reaching Devprayag, where it merges with rivers like Alaknanda, Mandakini, Pindar, Dhauliganga, and Bishenganga.

Confluence: Before reaching Devprayag, the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers converge with tributaries such as Mandakini, Pindar, Dhauliganga, and Bishenganga.

Panch Prayag: The Panch Prayag concept includes Vishnuprayag, Nandprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag, and Devprayag, where the Alaknanda unites with its tributaries.

Principal Tributaries: Noteworthy tributaries include the Yamuna, Damodar, Sapta Kosi, Ram Ganga, Gomati, Ghaghara, and Son.

Final Destination: Covering a distance of 2525 km, the Ganga ultimately meets the Bay of Bengal.

Yamuna River System: A Tranquil Flow

Origin: The Yamuna River, a significant tributary of the Ganga, originates from the Yamunotri glacier, located at the Bandarpoonch peak in Uttarakhand.

Tributaries: The primary tributaries that join the river include Sin, Hindon, Betwa, Ken, and Chambal.

Largest Tributary: The Tons stands as the largest tributary contributing to the Yamuna.

Drainage Area: The river’s drainage area encompasses the states of Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh.

Tapi River System: A Journey Westward

Origin: It originates in the Southern Madhya Pradesh state within the Eastern Satpura Range.

Westward Flow: Flowing westward, the river traverses significant regions such as Madhya Pradesh’s Nimar and East Vidarbha, Maharashtra’s Khandesh, and South Gujarat, ultimately emptying into the Gulf of Cambay in the Arabian Sea.

River Basin: The Tapi River Basin primarily lies in the eastern and northern districts of Maharashtra, covering some districts of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat as well.

Principal Tributaries: Key tributaries of the Tapi River include the Waghur River, Aner River, Girna River, Purna River, Panzara River, and Bori River.

Narmada River System: The Frontier River

Origin: The river originates from the peak of Amarkantak Hill in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Geographical Boundary: Serving as the traditional demarcation between North India and South India, the river holds historical significance.

Peninsular River: Recognized as a major river in peninsular India, it flows from east to west, joining the ranks of significant rivers like the Tapti and the Mahi.

Flow through States: The river traverses through Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.

Endpoint: It ultimately empties into the Arabian Sea in the Bharuch district of Gujarat.

Krishna River System: A Serpentine Journey

Length:  Krishna River is about 1300 km long, making it one of India’s longest rivers.

Origin: It starts from Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra.

Endpoint: Flowing through Sangli, it eventually meets the Bay of Bengal.

Flow through States: The river flows through Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh.

Main Tributary: Tungabhadra River is the main tributary, formed by the Tunga and Bhadra rivers from the Western Ghats.

Other Tributaries: Other tributaries joining Krishna include Dudhganga Rivers, Koyna, Bhima, Mallaprabha, Dindi, Ghataprabha, Warna, Yerla, and Musi.

Cauvery River System: Dakshin Ganga’s Grace

Origin: It originates from Talakaveri in Tamil Nadu, situated in the Western Ghats about 5,000 feet (1,500 m) above sea level.

Also Known: The Kaveri is also called Dakshin Ganga.

Pilgrimage and Tourist Place: It’s a famous place for both pilgrims and tourists in the Kodagu district of Karnataka.

Flow: The river starts in the Western Ghats of Karnataka and goes through Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Endpoint: The river goes into the Bay of Bengal. It helps with farming and is crucial for the old kingdoms and modern cities in South India.

Tributaries: The Kaveri has many tributaries, including Arkavathy, Shimsha, Hemavati, Kapila, Honnuhole, Amaravati, Lakshmana Kabini, Lokapavani, Bhavani, Noyyal, and Tirtha.

Godavari River System: The Second-Longest Odyssey

Length: With a span of around 1,450 km (900 miles) and distinctive brownish water, it is India’s second-longest river.

Also Known: Commonly known as the Dakshin (South) Ganga or Vriddh (Old) Ganga.

Seasonal Nature: This river experiences seasonal changes, drying up in summers and expanding during the monsoons.

Origin: Originating from Trimbakeshwar near Nasik in Maharashtra.

Flow: It flows southeast through south-central India, passing through Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha before reaching the Bay of Bengal.

Delta Formation: Splitting into two streams, it forms a fertile delta at Rajahmundry.

Pilgrimage Sites: The riverbanks host various pilgrimage sites, including Nasik in Maharashtra, Bhadrachalam in Telangana, and Trimbak.

Tributaries: Notable tributaries include Pranahita (formed by Penuganga and Wardha), Indravati River, Bindusara, Sabari, and Manjira.

Engineering Feat: The river Godavari boasts Asia’s largest rail-cum-road bridge, connecting Kovvur and Rajahmundry.

Mahanadi River System: A Vital Lifeline

Location: The Mahanadi River is situated in eastern India.

Origin: It rises in the Satpura Range in central India, covering a distance of approximately 860 km.

Flow and Drainage: The river travels eastward, ultimately emptying into the Bay of Bengal. It drains a significant portion of Chhattisgarh and extends into Odisha, Jharkhand, and Maharashtra.

Hirakud Dam: There’s a big dam on the river called Hirakud Dam, near Sambalpur city. It’s the largest dam on the Mahanadi.

List of Longest Rivers of India

Listed below are the longest rivers in India, along with their corresponding lengths:

S. No.RiverLength in India (km)Total Length (km)
List of Longest Rivers of India

Rivers of India Names with States

India’s rivers are diverse and vital, flowing from the snowy Himalayas to the fertile Indo-Gangetic basin and lush coastal regions. Rivers are the backbone of the nation, supporting millions by offering livelihoods, sustenance, and a feeling of belonging. Explore the state-wise list of Indian rivers below to understand their significance across the country.

S. No.StateRivers
1Andhra PradeshGodavari & Musi
7JharkhandDamodar, Ganga & Subarnarekha
8KarnatakaBhadra, Tungabhadra, Cauvery, Tunga & Pennar
10Madhya PradeshBetwa, Tapti, Wainganga, Khan, Narmada, Kshipra, Beehar, Chambal & Mandakini
11MaharashtraKrishna, Godavari, Tapi and Panchganga
12NagalandDiphu & Dhansiri
13OrissaBrahmini & Mahanadi
16SikkimRani Chu
17Tamil NaduCauvery, Adyar, Cooum, Vennar, Vaigai & Tambarani
18Uttar PradeshYamuna, Ganga & Gomti
20West BengalGanga, Damodar & Mahananda
Rivers of India Names with States

Frequently Asked Questions about Rivers in India

Q: What is the longest river in India?

A: The Ganga is the longest river in India, stretching 2,525 kilometers.

Q: What is the shortest river in India?

A: Determining the “shortest” can be tricky due to varying definitions and fluctuating lengths. Some contenders include the Mithi River (Mumbai) at 97 km and the Zuari River (Goa) at 100 km.

Q: Which river is commonly recognized as the “Lifeline of South India”?

A: The Kaveri River earns the moniker “Lifeline of South India” owing to its crucial contributions to irrigation, agriculture, and the overall economic prosperity of the region.

Q: What is the significance of the Yamuna River?

A: The Yamuna, a tributary of the Ganga, is considered sacred in Hinduism and holds historical significance due to the Triveni Sangam confluence in Prayagraj.

Q: What is the importance of the Brahmaputra River?

A: The Brahmaputra plays a vital role in the ecology and economy of Assam and other northeastern states, supporting agriculture, fisheries, and transportation.

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